Written for Operation Werewolf by Joshua Buckley
Love trumps hate. Love is all you need. And most grating of all, “live, laugh, love!” (The latter, it would seem, is now something like the battle cry of the basic bitch.) To hear people talk, you would think that we live in the most loving society that’s ever existed. Of course, people today are no more loving—and certainly no more lovable—than they’ve ever been. Moreover, if you listen closely to all the love-mongering, it will become clear that when the Establishment and its educational-political-media apparatus talks about “love,” they want us to understand them in two very specific ways.
First, we are supposed to love everyone equally (“love sees no color”). Somehow, we are expected to summon up the same level of concern for other people’s children, in countries whose names we can’t pronounce, and whose boundaries we can’t pinpoint on a map, as we would for our own families. This is “universal love” of a sort that would make Jesus blush. It’s also almost always disingenuous. Just as “some animals are more equal than others,” the powers-that-be clearly find some people more lovable than others. Nevertheless, the idea of universal love is sufficiently appealing to the amorphous sensibilities of modern people, that it has become the Establishment’s go-to argument when it needs to morally manipulate the public—and politics now seems to consist primarily of moral manipulation.
Second, our society puts a tremendous premium on sexual love, especially sexual love of the more promiscuous variety. There’s not actually a lot of lovemaking going on, but there’s plenty of fucking. Monogamous marriages may be a quaint relic of the past, but the Establishment has never run across a fetish or deviant sexual practice that it can’t get behind (so to speak). There are organized advocacy groups for Adult Babies, scatophiliacs, and people who fuck in cartoon character costumes. I am hardly a prude and could care less if people are into feet or rubber outfits, but why are these things treated as if they have redemptive societal value? Part of it is the fact that in a capitalist society, marginal sexual identities have become commodified, just like everything else. Even plain old-fashioned hetero-sex can now be ordered up like pizza on dating apps like Tinder. As with any other consumer product, the approach seems to be one of quantity over quality. Why try to cultivate meaningful relationships or start a family when you can download instant sexual gratification from the internet? Still, the commodification of sexuality does not explain everything. The Establishment has a vested interest in promoting an entirely sexualized conception of love, just as it has a vested interest in promoting a “universal love” that purports to embrace all of humanity.
So what do these two conceptions of “love” have in common? The answer is that neither of them requires commitment. Imagining that you love all people everywhere, without distinction, and screwing random strangers while never committing your heart to any of them, means never having to choose sides. That’s because choosing sides is dangerous.
And real love is dangerous. “When we want to read of the deeds that are done for love, whither do we turn?” asked the playwright George Bernard Shaw. “To the murder column.” When you really love someone, the implication is that you’re willing to fight for them. Everyone knows that a mother bear with her cubs is the deadliest animal in the forest. It’s also true that some men—often unhinged men, sometimes genuinely heroic men—can be induced to fight and die for an ideal or principle. But even ordinary, seemingly unheroic men, will fight to the death if their wives or children are threatened. Most of the soldiers who have fallen in Iraq or Afghanistan didn’t die or get permanently maimed because they believed the propaganda about spreading democracy and defending “’muh freedoms.” They died to protect their brothers-in-arms, who they love in a way that non-combatants can probably never comprehend. (When I talk about “love” between men, I mean it in a completely non-sexual way. This should of course go without saying, but in our homo-centric, sex-obsessed society, it probably bears repeating.) Uprisings and revolutions are fomented by bands of men whose loyalty to one another can overthrow existing nations, and found new ones.
Similarly, families and extended families can provide for each other and support each other in ways that no government can ever compete with, and can even grow into dynasties that can challenge State power. The cognitive scientist Steven Pinker once opined that the family is the most seditious institution in human history, precisely because it will always favor its own members over the claims of unrelated fellow citizens. This is why the government is such a shameless promoter of single motherhood, child “protection” agencies, and feminist initiatives to destroy the patriarchy. It is also why a phenomenon like “slut-shaming” is now regarded as a dire political crime. These ideas are reflected in the two greatest dystopian novels of the twentieth century: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984.
In Huxley’s soft-totalitarian World State, families have been abolished. Children are engineered and raised in institutions like the “London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre.” Indiscriminate fucking is encouraged, but monogamous relationships and even words like “mother” and “father” are considered taboo.
In the hard-totalitarian society imagined by Orwell, the Party is fully aware of the dangers of meaningful human attachments that stand outside the State’s orbit. “Already we are breaking down the habits of thought that have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends.” In the book’s final act, Winston Smith is captured and tortured by Big Brother. But Winston’s interrogator does not consider him sufficiently broken—and ready for re-integration into the Party—until he denounces Julia, the woman he loves.
If libertarians, anarchists, or other anti-statists want real independence from the System, they should be working to form strong brotherhoods, tribes, and families, which are the only true alternative to the State’s hegemony. Instead, these are often the very same people most susceptible to the pernicious myth of the “rugged individual.” We have all heard some variant of the quote from Henrik Ibsen: “The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.” While this may be true in some circumstances, or in certain matters of conscience, it completely ignores the reality that human beings are by nature almost entirely social—there has never been a time when people were able to truly go it alone. When modern men tell themselves that they are “self-made,” they are almost certainly deluding themselves about the degree to which they are relying on support systems provided by the government. Our goal, then, should not be to isolate ourselves as individuals (as if such a thing were even possible), but to cultivate relationships of interdependence with people who we actually care about, and who actually care about us. The State would quite naturally be excluded from this equation.
Furthermore, while Ibsen might have thought that being alone is “strong,” for most people this kind of thinking is just a tepid self-justification for weakness. You might tell yourself that you’re a “pick-up artist” because you fuck lots of strangers, but you’re probably just an asshole. Ditto for “MGTOWs” (you can Google it if you need to), who are almost certainly making a virtue out of necessity. Likewise, refusing to open yourself up to real, deep friendships, probably just means that you’re a coward who’s afraid of being “hurt.” There is also nothing strong about adopting the Establishment’s empty platitudes about “one love” that “doesn’t build walls.” Loving all of humanity is pretty much the same thing as loving no one. Real love gains meaning when it chooses its object to the exclusion of all others.
Real love, in other words, is about loyalty. It is a powerful antidote to the spirit of ironic detachment, rootlessness, and the lonely, creeping emptiness, that are the hallmarks of the modern condition.